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University of Texas Hospitals Creating Clinical Data Network

July 3, 2016
by David Raths
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Integration project to benefit UT System in terms of research, biomedical discovery, population health

The University of Texas Board of Regents recently earmarked $12.4 million to create a UT System Clinical Data Network to connect patient data from six existing UT health institutions, with the potential to expand the project to their affiliated hospitals and clinics and to the two new medical schools at UT Austin and UT Rio Grande Valley, which open this month.

The School of Biomedical Informatics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston will coordinate the clinical network. “We measure our performance by the data that is available to us,” said Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., UT System executive vice chancellor for health affairs, in a prepared statement. “Right now, our clinical data reside at individual institutions. We have no way of getting a global picture of what’s going on within our healthcare enterprise. We see tremendous value in integrating our information sources and learning from each other.”

Much of the information technology infrastructure needed to aggregate and analyze the records is already in place through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) programs at UTHealth, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, UTMB Galveston and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. These institutions are all part of the Texas Regional CTSA Consortium. The program at UTHealth is called the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) and is operated in conjunction with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Memorial Hermann Health System. The CCTS operates a Clinical Research Unit in Brownsville.

“This is going to be a game-changing project that will have a huge impact on the UT System in terms of clinical and translational research, biomedical discovery, population health, medical training and clinical care, and it is going to be a crucial infrastructure for many projects under the Precision Medicine Initiative,” said Jiajie Zhang, Ph.D., dean and The Glassell Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Informatics Excellence at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics, in a prepared statement.